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The Panamanian health authorities announced this Thursday that they will buy Remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients in the country, which has been experiencing an escalation of the disease for weeks, which has led to the accumulation of confirmed cases to 42,216 and 839 deaths, and has slowed down the reopening of the economy.

Health Minister Luis Francisco Sucre said that the drug Remdesivir will be purchased, the first drug that has been shown to be effective in treating COVID-19, « for the care of at least 1,000 patients » with the disease in Panama.

Remdesivir is an experimental therapy that started developing in 2009 and was tested with Ebola patients in the middle of the last decade.

A US clinical trial showed that this drug shortens the recovery time in some patients with the coronavirus.

Minister Sucre also reaffirmed the suspension of the economic reopening process due to the high spread of the new coronavirus, especially in the provinces of Panama, where the capital is, and of Panama West, the most populated in the country.

« The third block will not open until significant changes are achieved in the indicators. When the decision is made, it will be staggered and by lines, according to the epidemiological, economic and social variables, » said Sucre.

Panama paralyzed in mid-March all non-essential economic activity. It organized a gradual opening process divided into six blocks that began on May 13 and allowed the restart of two of them, but which was suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak that is in full development.

Essential sectors such as food, health, security, transportation, among others, have never stopped in the country, but all commerce and schools remain closed, and massive cultural and sporting events are suspended.

Forecasts by local analysts place the fall in Panama’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at least 4% in 2020.

« Here it is necessary to do what is necessary in order to save lives and the health of the population, so it is being evaluated whether it is necessary to be more drastic with the measures, » added the Minister of Health.

THE FIGURES OF CONTACTS AND THE DEATHS GROW

Panama reported on Thursday 20 deaths and 965 cases of COVID-19, which make a total of 839 deaths and 42,216 confirmed infections of the disease after 123 days of pandemic in the country, which continues with a fatality rate of 1.98% .

1,049 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, 159 in intensive care units (ICU) and 890 in wards, 19,182 are in home isolation and another 709 have been taken to hotels that function as hospitals.

Since the first case was detected in Panama on March 9, 155,605 tests have been carried out, of which 28% have been positive.

The tests per million inhabitants amount to 36,369, with 2,457 new tests carried out in the last hours, for a positivity of 39%.

Deaths are concentrated among people over the age of 60, who accumulate 603 deaths out of the total of 839.

Minister Sucre stressed this Thursday that work is being done to strengthen the traceability system to keep track of the contacts of a positive person by COVID-19 in order to prevent its spread.

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